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Senate passes bill banning teaching of critical race theory in Idaho schools

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The Idaho Senate on Monday approved legislation aimed at preventing public and charter schools and universities from teaching critical race theory, which examines the ways in which race and racism influence American politics, culture and the law.

The measure has already passed the House and now heads to the governor's desk.

The measure, which passed the Senate with a 27 to 8, would prevent educators from making students “affirm, adopt or adhere to” belief systems claiming individuals of any race, sex, ethnicity, religion or national origin are responsible for past actions done by members of the same group. It also would prohibit teachers from forcing students onto belief systems that claim a group of people as defined by sex, race, ethnicity or religion are inferior or superior to another.

The legislation comes amid a national reckoning on how race and racism influences policing and other realms of American life. Republican Idaho lawmakers are concerned federal authorities could force belief systems on Idaho students through school curricula — calling the ideas often found in critical race theory “contrary to the unity of the nation and the well-being” of the state.

As a result, GOP lawmakers have been holding up crucial education budget bills until some type of bill addressing what can be taught in schools is passed. The House earlier this month killed a $1.1 billion teacher pay bill for that reason.

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